Is it Worth Grading Comic Books?
Updated: Aug 23
Comic books have been around since the early 1930s and they started as a compilation of newspaper strips. Eventually, they became a medium of their own when the superhero genre took off in the late 1930s. Comics would be printed for decades and were considered a media that was mainly for kids and younger adults who read and enjoyed them.
The 1980s and 1990s (it's arguable that it started earlier) started to see a rise in the collector of comics. For the first time, comic books were no longer a medium that was meant to be only read, but it was something that could be valuable and collected or sold for a profit. Despite this, there would not be comic book grading until the turn of the century when CGC was formed.
CGC started as a company in New Jersey and accepted submissions at local NYC comic book conventions when first starting. It was a new venture and people were unfamiliar with grading. As time went by, people started to realize that a standardized third-party opinion made perfect sense when collecting something that could be expensive. This led CGC to grow greatly in the next 20 years. They would eventually move to Florida and today they grade millions of comics every year.
The owner of CGC sold the company early on, but eventually went on to found CBCS, which is not partnered with Beckett (card grading). Today comic book grading is extremely common.
You may be asking yourself. All of these comic books being graded today, it must be worth grading mine. Well, the answer is yes and no. Comic grading was extremely selective for many years. If you had a modern comic book that was of minor significance, then it was only worth grading if the book was a 9.8 (many times a 9.6 would not be worth grading).
Today, it seems to be changing, and many collectors are paying more money for graded comics that are 9.4 or 9.6 than they were before. This is partly the reason why CGC and CBCS have become extremely backed up in their services. In the past modern comic books were not worth grading, so the amount sent to the graders was not massive.
In regards to older comic books, you may take the same approach. Many older comic books were not worth grading if they were in the standard, lower VG grade range, however, things have changed. A book of minor significance has a higher demand, so it may be worth grading the book.
Please note, that while it may be worth grading books currently, the future remains uncertain. CGC and CBCS are extremely backed up. CGC had to open a new grading building so keep up with the work. This may be a bad sign if you are thinking of sending anything for grading.
Keep in mind, comic books operate like any other collectible. There needs to be a good correlation between supply and demand. If the supply is high then the demand needs to keep up. If there are going to be hundreds of a particular book in 9.8, then there need to be just as many people who want it (probably more). If the demand doesn't keep up with the supply, then the prices will quickly drop. With all the books that will be graded in the next year, the supply will go up greatly. Will the demand keep up to at least keep prices stable? Only time will tell.